“Mr Twit never went really hungry. By sticking out his tongue and curling is sideways to explore the hairy jungle around his mouth, he was always able to find a tasty morsel here and there to nibble on.” (Roald Dahl)

For those of you who haven’t experienced Twitter I ask you to stop reading now. I offer no definitions, no useful information and no links. You don’t need to read this posting, get on with your life and ignore it. A life without Twitter is a richer life indeed.

A few days ago, Leigh explained Twitter to me and made it all a little more clear to me. Some of what she said made sense, I could see some small merit in micro-blogging and as a 55-word story writer, I obviously have a sense that small can often be a lot more beautiful. I don’t object to the concept of Twitter per-se, I object to how people seem to use it. Twitter originally came into my field of annoyance because of its interface to Facebook; now unfortunately it seems to be infecting everything. Twitter updates the Facebook statuses of people so I would get a feed somewhat like this.

  • “Pillock is waiting for a train.”
  • “Pillock has been waiting for 5 minutes, the train is now late.”
  • “Pillock wonders where the train is, and goes to get coffee.”
  • “Pillock thinks the coffee is horrible but at least the train is coming soon.”
  • “Pillock finally sees the train.”
  • “Pillock is getting on the train now.”
  • “Pillock doesn’t seem to be able to get a seat, damn train company.”

I will stop now… Unfortunately, this endless microglimpse into somebody’s tedious existence won’t. So why do people do it? I could probably come up with all sorts of theories; some of which would be pretty sound but ultimately it all boils down to the fact they do it because they are obviously quite deranged. Is anybody interested in this? Isn’t there enough quality literature in the world for people to read without them sitting there all day reading this constant stream of dirge? Apparently you can get people’s Twitter feeds sent to your mobile phone – What the fuck? WHY?

Maybe part of the problem is that it seems to be acceptable in the modern work place to be connected to garbage like this. When I was at BT, it used to be a particular bugbear of one of our security people that if people got into work and sat down and read the newspaper for the first 4 hours, they’d probably be sacked but that people seemed to think it was quite acceptable to sit reading random stuff on the Interwebs all day, playing on Facebook and the like. Is it a way that office people can escape work that is more acceptable than sitting in the garden reading Treasure Island? I pity what society will become if it is. On that matter, I find it somewhat ironic that I used to effectively twitter for a living. People used to have to pay $3.00 for each of my 140 word messages but then they were sad wankers, with no other friends than the imaginary people at the other end of their phone. Oh… Wait a minute… Ummm.

Maybe it is part of the new instant news society. As news consumers we seem to expect second by second updates but they aren’t useful, they aren’t healthy and they often do nothing more than confuse the whole situation. The average person isn’t trained as an intelligence analyst and the average person’s mind isn’t quite that fucked up enough to want to be. Nicholas Taleb writes quite well on the subject of the psychological effect of constant streams of updated information in his book “Fooled by randomness” – If you can ever drag yourself away from reading inane twitter messages, weblog postings and RSS feeds full of online comics; I suggest you give it a read.

A few of the armies of the world still employ War Artists; Australia and Britian being two of the key ones. The theory is that a painting can take in all the events of a day, of a battle, of a campaign and merge them all into one single, well thought out visual statement. It can do this far better than a single photograph, a single video clip, a single report. Whilst I don’t argue that very occasionally a potographer or film cameraman does capture an iconic image of war; I do agree with history that the painting does it far better. What’s wrong with people noting their thoughts down in a little notepad, a camera or an electronic organiser and summarising their day later? They could even use Twitter to do it and write something like “Late Trian, Crap Coffee, No Seat – But Long John Silver whisked me away and saved me. Thanks Robert.”

I quite like Giolla’s Livejournal. He occasionally posts a small Haiku that summarises his week which seems like a perfect use for Twitter – Maybe people could learn a lesson from that but they won’t will they. They will continue to think that people are interested in every breath they take. Sting was wrong. We aren’t.


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